Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse Review

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse Review

It’s seriously bad luck to be near George Stobbart. Just as his first Broken Sword adventure began with a death in Paris, someone is shot within minutes of Broken Sword 5. And so begins another adventure to find the murderer. There’s more to it this time though as the shooter’s main aim was to steal a mysterious (and quite disturbing) old painting from a Parisian gallery.

If you’re new to the Broken Sword series, don’t be put off by that daunting number in the title. This adventure works as a standalone title and instead of relying on series knowledge, merely gives the odd nod to fans via cameo appearances, and of course, irritable goats.

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse Review

Broken Sword is a point and click adventure series with a neat, classic cartoon visual style that has been updated slightly to stay true to the series’ roots. This fifth title was developed through a successful Kickstarter campaign, and was originally released as a two parter for the PC and the Vita. Thankfully, we now to get to play it on PS4 and Xbox One too.

There’s no awkward break for this PS4 version though and you can play straight through to the end over the course of about 12 hours. You’ll visit various locations around the world after starting in Paris and naturally, your pockets will become filled with apparently random junk that will eventually become vitally important to your adventure.

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse Review

Broken Sword 5 is very newbie-friendly and is one of the simpler games in the series. You won’t get stuck trying to decide in which country to use a certain item, as you’re usually locked to a few scenes in one location until you’ve met the requirements to push the story forwards.

A hint system is available from the pause menu too, which starts subtly, gently pushing you towards a solution. You can keep asking though and the final hint tells you in no uncertain terms exactly what to do. It’s very tempting, especially during one of the hieroglyphic translation scenes towards the end. Naturally, not cheating is far more rewarding.

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse Review

When not translating apparent gibberish, other puzzles involve working out how to get past a cockroach (seriously), breaking into an office, fixing wires, sneaking around a gangster’s house, overloading circuits by powering up devices and so on. And strapping sausages to goats. The usual creative point and click silliness that never fails to raise a smile once a solution springs to mind.

Five games in and the developers seem to have lost a little of the magic between Nico and George. For large parts of the game they work separately and there no longer seems to be any playful chemistry between them. George is still an amusing lead though with his goofy enthusiasm and chipper mood even when faced with mortal peril.

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse Review

The game handles well enough on PS4 with a DualShock 4 as you use the analogue stick to move the cursor. You can do this with the trackpad too, but it’s very sensitive. The devs have cleverly used the controller’s speaker to listen to incoming phone calls, which while old news on the Wii, is a great touch here for the players. Annoyingly, a bug present in previous versions remains as the Diamond Geezer Trophy never pinged for me as it didn’t for many players on the Vita.

There are a few problems that have been an issue with many of the genre’s games too. While the plot’s events move along at a decent pace, the animations and navigating stages is often painfully slow. Ask George or Nico to do something and they’ll often stand still for a few seconds before shuffling into life and some dialogue is equally slow to get going. It’s particularly annoying when you need to activate something that involves multiple animations during a bit of trial and error. Scenes involving a car horn and throwing fruit as a distraction are particularly galling.

Broken Sword 5: The Serpent's Curse Review

These genre foibles aren’t particularly damning though when all is said and done. This really is a charming game, with buckets of style that fans will adore and newcomers will enjoy enough to consider hunting down the older games. With a mix of Indiana Jones adventuring and Da Vinci Code conspiracy investigations, there’s a thoroughly entertaining adventure for all.

Pros

  • Great return for point and click gaming
  • Fun family-friendly gaming
  • Suitable for series fans and newbies

Cons

  • Animations are very slow
  • George and Nico lack spark
  • Same Trophy glitch as the Vita version

The Short Version: Puzzles and their bizarre solutions are just the right amount of complicated and satisfying to beat. While not bringing anything new to the genre, Broken Sword 5 is a fun point and click adventure -for both long-time fans and newcomers- with a compelling and mysterious religious conspiracy plot.

7/10

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Platforms: PS4 (reviewed) | Xbox One | PS Vita | PC
Developers: Revolution Software
Publishers: Revolution Software

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